A few days back, it was again a weekend and I was desperately waiting to go somewhere, very soon someone stuck me with the idea of going to Bagalkot district in North Karnataka. This region is known by the Chalukya dynasty which ruled during 6th to 12th century. Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal were their capital cities over different periods of time. From Chennai, it was a bit far for a weekend. But still, with few of my colleagues, I was on the road again.
Started the weekend little earlier, the journey would take around 15- 17 hours. Reached Bangalore by 9.30 PM and immediately boarded the bus to Badami.
Almost reached Badami when woke up next day. The bus dropped us in the main street, in front of the bus terminal. While I was enquiring about the bus to our first destination, Aihole, an auto-rickshaw driver came over and told that he will take us to the places we wanted.
So again, I was in an auto-rickshaw. Aihole is around 35 km from Badami, so plenty to see during the long ride. Vast farmlands and the sandstone mountains beyond it, farmers dressed in white, their oxen and the funky decorated tractors blessed my eyes on the way. Though the auto drivers, in general, are annoying sometimes, I will forget everything when we break the line between and begin to share stories. The same thing happened this time also.
When the Chalukya kings ruled this north Karnataka region, Aihole was their first capital and an important centre for trade during the same period. It is now a small village with few families and 125 temples which date back to 5th century. Aihole is known as the “cradle of Indian rock architecture”.
Out of the is temples, Archaeological Survey of India restored few of them and others can be still seen through the tin roofings of houses in the village. Villagers put clothes to dry on their walls, children running around the sanctums playing and cattle resting on the side. Most of the temples are abandoned now. They were destroyed during the wars. These ruins are nothing new or a matter of curiosity to the people here. Everything is so casual and all these monuments beholding a great history are their part of life since birth.
The ASI is taking very good care of the temples. The museum inside holds a big collection of antiques excavated from here.
As soon as I walked out of the compound, a lady came towards with a big basket and a big smile. Very soon, I ended up having a small pot of lassi from her basket even though both of us didn’t have any idea what we are talking each other.The lassi was fresh and natural.
Pattadakal was the next destination, another 14 km ride towards Badami side. It was another capital of the Chalukyas, located on the banks of Malaprabha river. The coronation ceremony of the kings was held here. The kings who ruled here over the time encouraged many architectural experiments, constructed many temples in and around Pattadakal. Temples inspired by both South Indian and North Indian architecture styles can be seen here in the same compound.
The Chalukya kings, whose main income was from agriculture was not able to meet the expense for the construction later. So many of the structures are incomplete. Other temples became nonfunctional after the enemy invasions. During the time of the attacks, people covered temples completely with mud to hid, one such is the only functional temple in the Pattadakal complex. These huge rock cut structures standing straight even after 1000 years admits the knowledge our ancestors possessed in architecture and mathematics. Now the temple complex is a UNESCO world heritage site.
This climate here is generally hot, you definitely have to be under the hot sun. But that doesn’t gonna bother when you become more adhered to this place. The life of the people here is tough. We can observe and learn many lessons of survival and struggle. I felt that this hardship has equipped these people to approach life in a much simpler way. Encountered many innocent smiling faces here. I still remember the old man who runs a small restaurant, lovingly filled my plate with jowar rotis. When my stomach was full, I did a lot of actions with hands to stop him putting rotis in my plate.
On the way back to Badami, our driver gave us an idea for the next day. He asked us to trek to Mahakuta, 6 km by walk from Badami. Our plan was to spend the next day completely in Badami. But now we had one more thing to do; so cut short the sleep and start the trek early morning.
We reached Badami by nightfall, the city was different from the morning. It was the day before Holi festival and this small city was also getting ready for the celebration. There were more people in the streets. There were many food stalls on the roadside. Small groups of boys roamed the streets with drums. They collected donations from the shops for the celebrations. The tractors which I saw in the fields during the day are now on the road with people. They had big speakers on it and playing Kannada movie songs, loud. A walk through the city was inevitable for me.
That was the end of the first day and six hours later, woke up to another beautiful day.
The ancient city of Hampi built by the Vijayanagara kings is also in North Karnataka, you can also include visiting Hampi on your journey.
To know more about how to plan your trip, read the Travel guide to Aihole and Badami.
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